AMIGOS believes in the extraordinary power of human connection to build communities. As humans, we are wired for connection and social interaction. Through our relationships and interactions, we discover more about ourselves. Part of the AMIGOS experience is developing powerful personal coping skills, making lifelong friendships, and learning the skills to become better communicators and facilitators. Youth are digitized out and will greatly benefit from the opportunity to be fully present to engage more deeply with themselves and their surroundings. We believe that the use of a screen, whether it be a cellphone or laptop or any other digital device, can be a barrier to a transformative AMIGOS experience.
Over the years we have seen that volunteers who made the decision to seal up their phones and do a complete digital detox, report overall higher satisfaction rates of the experience and deeper connections with their communities and peers. Additionally, volunteers reported less instances of being homesick and fewer challenges with mental health. Coupled with emerging research on technology, and our anecdotal experience, has led AMIGOS to develop the following technology policy:
- Volunteers are not permitted to bring Wi-Fi enabled devices to the program, except for a cell phone* to be used only during travel days. This includes laptops, iPods, iPads, apple watches, tablets, kindles, and any other electronic device. If it can connect to the internet, please leave it at home.
- We will all and encourage volunteers to use their personal cell phones during days of arrival and departure from the program for travel purposes only. All other devices are NOT permitted.
- Volunteers who chose to bring their personal cell phones will be required to keep their devices in a Yondr pouch once they have arrived to the project. The pouch will lock the device and volunteers will maintain possession of their devices in the locked pouch. The Yondr pouch will be unlocked by our Project Staff at the end of the project for travel home.
- Volunteers will not have access to their phones or any other electronic device during their project. Expect no communication from your child unless it is an emergency. No news is good news.
- Volunteers will have the opportunity to use the program laptop and camera at designated times to take videos and make blog posts which will enable our families and friends to follow their adventure back at home.
Volunteers will not be permitted to use their phones to listen to music. A music player and speaker will be provided for volunteers to play their favorite tunes with others. Volunteers will not be permitted to use their smart phones as cameras, and as such are encouraged to bring their own camera, if desired. We ask volunteers to please bring two of their favorite books, a deck of cards, and list of top 10 favorite songs to share with the group. During the program, there will be a lively book swap, lots of opportunities to learn new games, read new books, and listen to a diverse collection of music.
We understand this technology policy may be a challenge, but we believe that Volunteers chose AMIGOS because of their drive, desire to connect and ability to dive deep and succeed! AMIGOS is confident that by disconnecting, Volunteers will connect with others and themselves in meaningful ways!
*NOTE: Volunteers assume sole responsibility for any device they choose to bring with them in-country and AMIGOS is not responsible for replacement or reimbursement of any lost, stolen or damaged items.